Monday, June 30, 2008

A future treasure?

I know a lot of mommy bloggers began their blogs as a way to document not only their children's childhood, but also who THEY were as a parent to their child, and as a person outside their role as "mommy". They began with the goal of sharing who they were and how they thought with their children when they were older: what it was like to live each day together, the major events as they happened, etc. That was never my goal.

But the other day as I was scrapbooking I was journaling on the page, which is something I'm trying to do more of (and blogging helps with that quite a bit, actually), and I thought "I'll put a little bit of the story here. I have the full tale on my blog."

The scrapbook is different, very different, than the blog. The major goal of my scrapbooking is basically an enhanced photo album. The May Queen loves to look through them now, and so I try to get pictures in fairly quickly (ahem. I run about 6 months behind. Give or take 4 months). I'm trying to journal more so that other friends and family who look at them will know the stories behind the photos, and also because as I was looking at old albums at my parent's house last summer I wished so much that there were stories attached to the pictures. What on earth were Grandpa and I doing under the table in this photo? I hope that some day in the future we'll be able to look back at the scrapbooks and remember not only the event in the picture, but the events that surrounded it.

The journaling in the scrapbook, though, is for immediate consumption by family and friends and even sometimes acquaintances who happen into our home and to flip through my books. The blog... while much more immediate and in a lot of ways much more public, is deeper and more private. I choose who, in my circle of friends and family, has access to it. The things I write and tell about are different. More personal, in a lot ways. But I'm beginning to think about it in terms of something that I might indeed gift to the May Queen as she gets older. Maybe not all of it. Maybe just select posts that are printed into a book or binder for her: This is me. This is your mother. This is how I saw the world. How I loved you.

It's not quite a private journal. I write much differently when I write in a private journal. I think, however, that this blog may be better than a private journal. A lot of the stuff I've written in private journals in the past I think may be destined for flames. I'm not sure I want my daughter or any future generations reading that dreck. But writing a blog for an "audience" has challenged me to explain myself better and to think about who I am in ways that a private journal did not. I hope that The May Queen might, someday in the distant future, lay her eyes on this and think "what a treasure, to know what my mother was thinking and feeling as I grew up. To know WHO she was, as my mother, and as a woman outside of just my mother." I know I would love to have something like this from my mother.

Do any of you have anything... journals, letters, etc... from your mothers or other ancestors? How have they shaped how you view them?

Thursday, June 26, 2008


(photo taken by The May Queen)

One of the fabulous treats that arrived on my doorstep recently was this shark tent, a birthday gift from fellow blogger and real life friend, The Dragonfly. (Thanks!) I opened it, saw what it was, laughed, and then, I'm sad to say, left it in the box for several weeks. This past weekend I FINALLY made the time to set it up.

(If you're a new reader and wondering why on earth a child sized shark tent is a perfect gift for me, you can see more of my obsession with all things shark here )

Once we finally got it set up The May Queen set to making it comfortable, filling it with sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and books. Then we both crawled in there and read with flashlights (and the May Queen READ! It was crazy!) When we finally had to abandon it for dinner the cat discovered it.
The next day while we were at camp Shakespeare slept in the tent the whole time we were gone! Upon our arrival home The May Queen had to invite the neighbor girls over to see it, and they spent the rest of the afternoon playing in it. The May Queen has been begging to sleep in it. It is definitely a hit!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Touching Base

I left a comment the other day on Kyla's blog where I used the phrase "touch base." Although it is an expression I use fairly frequently I had a sudden and very strong image of all of us, this whole virtual community, "touching base."

When I was kid "base" was usually a tree used as the safe spot for a game of hide and go seek with the neighbors. We'd all sneak out of our hiding spots and dash for the safety of the tree, then stand there, with our hands on the rough bark, panting, and yet revelling in our safety.

And so the image I had was of us all meeting at the tree, coming out from our hiding place, or whatever it is that keeps us busy. With our palms on the bark we lean into the tree trunk while we talk to each other. We've come back to this base - this safe place - to reconnect, to share, to play and rest and just be....) Then we'll run back out for another crazy game.

But we'll be back. To touch base.

Jen's post comparing writing and reading blogs to gathering around each other's campfire made me think of this same thing, too: how when we would go camping when I was a child there was nothing like a campfire to bring us together at the end of the day, to sit, and talk, and sing. Walking through the campground we'd often be invited to sit at a stranger's campfire, and we'd share conversations and s'mores. Campfires are a lot like "base." Only don't put your hand ON one. Please.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

snippets of updates

My audition on Saturday went OK - not the best I've ever done as my voice was quite tired from teaching all week, but fairly well. This was for the theatre I worked with all last year, and so they're quite familiar with my work, and I was trying to use this as an opportunity to show them a few of my unmined gifts. The artistic director told me I was "looking good" (um... thanks... I think) and I already know that I'm going to be called back for the role that Maureen O'Hara played in this classic Christmas film. The director of that show is the woman who directed the Christmas play I stepped into at the last minute last year. I said I felt like that was a great opportunity for me, and here we may see that pay off. No date on that callback yet, just a lovely e-mail from the director that she'll be in touch.

I spent crazy hours prepping for the audition and looking for new material, and ultimately I ended up using all stuff I had in my collection here at home, anyways, despite the large pile of books from the library and the hours I spent scouring the 'net. Sigh.

Several weeks ago my mailbox and front step were flush with fun surprises from various bloggy friends, and I have been SO remiss in saying thank you in any proper form, or in showing off the goodies. I am publicly declaring that I will try to remedy that this week.

Teaching. Oh. I haven't been posting about it largely due to the exhaustion factor, but also, well... it feels a bit mundane, somehow. I'm enjoying doing it, but the process is much more formulaic than anything I've done before, and I'm not particularly INSPIRED by it. The scripts are kind of blah and it's about all I can do to muster up enthusiasm for them around the kids and other teachers, but they aren't so bad that I need to complain about them. This program has been running for 15 years, and much of the staff have been around nearly as long, and so even though they are very nice I feel a bit out of sorts as the new girl. Fortunately I'm no longer in middle school so I'm not HURT by it, but it's interesting to watch the dynamics, and I do have moments of feeling like a 13 year old trying to fit in with the cool kids. I keep wanting to have some wonderful deep thoughts to share with you all about the whole process, but my brain just isn't there yet. Maybe it's still coming. And maybe not.

I turned another year older on Friday, and The May Queen was just adorable in her giving me gifts (from her toy collection) and making me pictures and cards. She INSISTED that her daddy make me a card, and when he didn't, she allowed one of the things that she had made to be from him. The Big Guy took me out for dinner - Thai food! The May Queen was distraught over the lack of birthday cake, so today I made myself a belated birthday cake. Chocolate with butter cream frosting. She even let me have the first piece.

Now I'm busy preparing for my audition on Tuesday. And planning for our big July road trip. I feel like I got to catch up a bit over the weekend, but it looks like another busy week ahead.

Empty Nest

This teaching drama thing is kicking my butt. I went to bed last night at 8:30. 8:30!! The May Queen kept getting up with her litany of excuses, and rather than my usual "leave me alone so I can get stuff done" eye rolling I was kicking her out of my bedroom so that I could sleep! Insane.

Tonight there was no litany, however. Tonight she is sleeping over at the neighbor's house. This is not the first time she has slept away, but the house is always oddly empty when she is gone. The door is open to the Jack and Jill bathroom that separates the computer room from her bedroom. The door to her room stands ajar. Her sheets are tangled, but there are no long, tanned limbs jutting out from them in all directions. Her pillow is missing, too.

Tomorrow I will not wake up with a small child's elbow in my back. Or her entire sleeping body on top of mine. (It has happened. Just last week. Maybe that's part of why I'm so tired.)

I know she's fine. And so are we.

But the house just doesn't feel right when she's gone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A series of fortunate events

Today I begin to see the fruits of my rockin' general audition last week: a phone call inviting me to audition for a show at a theatre in the French Quarter that I've wanted to work with since I've moved here.

While at the library today I glanced over the shelf by the door that sells used books, CDs, etc - as I always do before departing. Today the book Eat, Pray, Love - which has been recommended to me countless times and is rumored to have a SIX MONTH waiting list for check out from the library - was sitting on that shelf. I bought it. For a QUARTER.

My search for piano music for auditions led me to this site, which not only yielded some of the music I was looking for, but entire musical scores that I once loaned out and lost... now I have them again! Hooray!

Monday, June 16, 2008


So... I finally heard about this audition, and I didn't get the part. That's OK. The director sent a very nice e-mail, and asked if he could contact me for future shows.

Um... of course.

I'm not terribly surprised, and as I said (and the director said in the e-mail) there is only one role for a Caucasian woman in that show.

So anyhow, I have another audition this Saturday, and I'm busy getting ready for that. It's a season audition for the theatre that I worked at for all four shows I did last year, so I'm hoping something will come from this. We'll see!

And today I started teaching at a drama camp - the first time I've done that in 7 years, so that is fun (and tiring!) Having a full time job for the next 2 weeks will likely keep me away from the computer a lot, but I'll be around when I have the energy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daddy's Girl

Back in May I posted the series of Mother's Day pictures I've had taken each year with The May Queen. Several of you expressed that you hoped we did the same thing each year with her daddy for Father's Day. Have no fear. I present you with Father's Days 2003-2007:

Happy Father's Day!
(and pssssttt.... it's not too late to start this tradition yourselves, no matter how old your kids are now)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Handbag Horror

Late last summer Her Bad Mother challenged us to pour out the contents of our purses for all the internet to see. I had just returned from the UK, and never got around to it. It seems to have turned into a meme, and I see it popping up every now and then. Usually people decry the sad state of their purses, and then show the contents, neatly laid out on the table into little groups. Oh, the horror. 4 pieces of trash that should have been thrown out yesterday. One or two toys for the young child. A few expired coupons.

You people have to be faking it. Seriously. That's all you have in your purse???

Today, as I was digging around for receipts to turn in tomorrow for reimbursement from my summer camp teaching gig, I decided it was a good time to clean out the purse, and do this meme in the process. Let me show you what's inside a REAL woman's purse.

But first, the outside.

I get more compliments on it, and I honestly bought it on clearance at WalMart (evil, I know, I know) for less than 6 dollars when I just needed a bag to stick a few things and a book into for a flight without my child 4 years ago (The diaper bag had already returned home with my husband and child, leaving me with no place to stick my wallet and an actual hope of getting some reading done on the plane.) It's a nice sized purse, purchased specifically because it can hold a magazine unrolled, but not look like I'm carrying a suitcase.

Peer into the inside.

Be afraid... be very afraid.

There will be no putting things into little piles for you to easily digest. To get the full impact you must see it poured out like this:

There is NO WAY I am going to catalog all of the contents for you, but here are a few of them: the torn off lid to a box of my hair dye, 2 pairs of earrings and a necklace - taken off at various pool parties, 2 name tags from my church, a sparkly pink plastic fake nail (not mine!), a packet of Wendy's salt, 12 Coke lids - saved to enter the reward numbers, 2 plastic animals from last week's VBS, one overstuffed wallet, countless expired coupons, tissues (new or used? who can tell?), a DVD game, quite a lot of candy and mints, an empty Altoids tin, loose change, a button (picked up off the street for art projects. I kid you not), a piece of paper with stickers given to me by one of my students at camp today, a Polly Pocket purse, my calendar - which I never use, a highlighter - which I frequently use at various rehearsals - very handy, packets of sanitizing hand wipes - several of them falling apart, a ticket from the only movie we've taken MQ to - BEFORE CHRISTMAS - saved for the scrapbook, a notepad with an old shopping list, 2 pens, one sharpened pencil and one unsharpened pencil, lots and lots of other trash and little doodad type toys shoved in there by my daughter. There is also a bit of sand in the bottom of my purse from an impromptu picnic on the beach in Biloxi before a performance of the opera last fall.

My purse is now much lighter.

And my receipts are ready to be turned in.

(What was NOT in it that I wished was? Pain reliever when I had a migraine last week at VBS and again today at day camp. Speaking of which, I need to remedy that...)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Headshot Evolution

OK... you asked, so here they are....

I had my first headshots taken in Chicago in 1995 (or late 94, I forget...), when I was a junior in college. I sent them out to tons of summer repertory theatres, and used them for the first few years out of college. Wow, do I look young.

In 1997 or 98 I had them taken again, in Philadelphia, by a guy who took production photos of a show I did. I had assumed I would go with the one guy who seemed to take all the headshots in town, but when I went in to meet with him he was such a jerk that I couldn't do it, and asked this other guy.

The shots I had taken in Los Angeles are my favorites, and I've been using them for far too long. This shot was taken just outside the photographers back door of his home in the valley. (it also scans in with really high contrast, for some reason)

For Christmas my husband got a new, really good (and not cheap!) camera, and I thought that I would have him try taking some new pictures of me. So one day we played around a bit, and although the pictures weren't BAD, they weren't quite as good as I wanted. Which we expected on the first go. We just hadn't gotten around to the second go yet, but as I said, I picked the best one and tried to make it work, so the pictures would be more representative of what I look like now.

So there you have it ... 4 different headshots spanning over 13 years. Yikes. They are a great example, I just noticed, looking at them like this, of what I do with my hair. I grow it out, I get sick of it and chop it off to about chin length, then remember how I can never get the hair to all point the same direction, and let it grow again. Until I get sick of it once more...

and in regards to Monday's audition.... the way a general audition like this works is that a bunch of directors from various theatres show up and watch, hoping to find some new talent/people to work with. Then as shows come up they look over their notes and call people they liked and think might be appropriate for the show to come in and audition FOR THE SHOW. So it's not like I'll be getting a call this week, and when and if I do get a call it will likely be for further auditions, not with an offer of a part. It could be 6 months before someone calls, as a result from this audition. So there's no time frame. I will be following up to all the theatres with cards, for that personal touch.

(Laskigal - it was Eleanor, the Duchess... "Why droops my Lord, like overripened corn...", Act 1 scene 2)

and still no news on the helicopter musical.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tales from an audition

I've had such a RELAXING few weeks, and wasn't AT ALL stressed about my new teaching job at a day camp today, so it was just PERFECT when I discovered yesterday, shortly after noon, that there was a BIG AUDITION being held TODAY. An audition where lots of theatres from all over the city would watch nervous actors do 2 contrasting monologues, and, if so inclined, sing 16 bars from a song.

Could you hear my harrowed scream from your home? No? It must have been at the wrong decibel.

Once I was done screaming, I called the theatre hosting the audition. Being Sunday, the offices were, of course, closed. I left a message, indicating the absolute earliest I could be there, and then took my daughter to the pool as promised. Poolside I watched as she and her friends enjoyed the waterslide, and I reviewed a small stack of monologues I had pulled from my monologue file.

Fortunately, I have such a file for occasions like this. And, fortunately, I have a few monologues I've been doing for over a decade and know like the back of my hand. And are, shockingly, still appropriate.

After The May Queen was in bed I printed out 20 Headshots and Resumes from my computer. I'm in desperate need of new pictures, and my husband took some pictures of me on his new camera a while back as practice. We've been meaning to do a new shoot to get some better shots, but I just picked the best of the batch and printed it out. My old professional shots are over 7 years old, my hair is much shorter, and I have a few less wrinkles (sigh). But the newer ones do look more like me, and I silently thanked God and whoever it was that invented digital cameras, photo editing software, and personal photo printers. Thank you.

Today, I went to teach (and that is a post for another day...) and checked my messages mid-day. Score! An audition time (being so late to the party I was afraid I wouldn't get one, in which case I planned to show up and sit around until they saw me. fun.)

So I finished teaching, hurried home to get ready, and rushed into the city. During rush hour. I made it there about 10 minutes before my time, and they were, predictably, running late. A few minutes later a friend of mine showed up, so we sat together and caught up while waiting to go in.

Finally, my turn. I would have 4 minutes to wow them.

Although it's been a few years since I've done this kind of audition, I'm rather practiced at it. (This doesn't mean that I don't get nervous. I still get nervous) I'm good at picking the pieces to show off my strenghths. I'm good at going in, giving a friendly introduction, and then launching myself into my pieces without missing a beat.

The first piece is a funny bit I've adapted from a short story by Donald Barthelme. It never fails to make them laugh, and by the end, they were all laughing in appropriately shocked ways (it's about a lot of things dying. It's funny. Trust me) Then I did my Shakespearean piece from Henry VI, part 2 (raise your hand if you've even that read that play. It's a surefire way to make sure I'm not doing the same Viola or Ophelia speech everyone else is doing. And it's strong, short, and to the point) Then, I had them laughing again with my brief 16 bars (the ones that won me a part in an opera, so they must be miracle workers).

I thanked them and exited the stage, feeling pretty good.

As I was leaving I heard a woman's voice say "She was wonderful."

I feel good. I deserve the margarita I'm drinking.

Now... if only one of those directors will CALL me....

(oh, hey! you can read part of the short story here. I do a WAY trimmed down version of a piece of this, but if you're up for a morbid laugh...)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Play Imitates Life

The May Queen and I were playing with the 13 monkeys that were donated by a local primate center for decorations for our rain forest themed VBS. She divided them up, and we were to put them to bed on our separate couches. Then we were to go to the ottoman, which she had placed in the middle of the room. She indicated sides of the ottoman and said "This is your computer, and this is mine. We'll get on the computers after the monkeys have gone to bed."

Guess what her mommy and daddy are doing now that our little monkey is in bed?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I need a vacation from Vacation Bible School

I've been eating, breathing and sleeping Vacation Bible School this week. It's the third year in a row that I've headed it up, and this has been by far the smoothest year. I have a great staff of volunteers, and 155 kids who are having a ball. It's fun to do, but is a LOT of work, and I am looking forward to it ending tomorrow. Granted, next week I dive into spending all day teaching at a day camp, which will make for longer days, but at least I will get paid for that. And I'm not in charge. Oh glorious, glorious not being in charge.

So that's why I haven't been around to visit your blogs much this week. I've been ironing logos onto T-shirts, creating daily newsletters, running rehearsals for the dramas, practicing the motions for the songs...

If you send your kids to VBS this year, tell the director, and all the volunteer staff, how much you appreciate their work. Even better, offer to help!

Hopefully next week will be a bit calmer around here.


And thank you for your oh so sweet and encouraging comments on my bloggy birthday post. I could not have received any better presents. Thanks.

(oh yeah... and Obama? Woo-hoo! there was celebrating around the Maypole Tuesday night! and then I went back to VBS stuff...)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, wee little blog

A year ago yesterday I read this meme over at Beck's (it was started, I believe, at blogrhet, which appears to no longer be in existence). I had been mostly lurking on Beck's blog for a few months or so, occasionally commenting. I liked her writing style, her insights, her parties for Pentecost and the like. Occasionally I'd peek at another blog, if something in the comments struck me. I had no intention to start blogging. I wondered about the ethics of blogging about your children, and how much they would hate you for it when they were older.

But something about the meme grabbed me. And I started poking around and reading other people's answers to the same meme. And this is what REALLY struck me: Community. And so, mainly in a longing for community, a year ago today I started this wee little blog. I tried several other names, all of which were taken. I landed on Painted Maypole, which wasn't. A blog, and a blogging personality, were born. And here I am, a year later. It amazes me, frankly, that anyone reads me at all. Why on earth do you keep coming back to read my random writings? Most of the bloggers I read and most of the bloggers who read me are Mommy Bloggers (not all, mind you, and I love you all!) And at blogher I'm considered a parent blogger. But I think that less than half my posts are about parenting. I don't know how to describe it, really, which is perhaps why I still have told very few friends and family about it. It's like my dirty little secret. A Blog! Shhh...

Anyhow, in honor of my wee blog's first birthday, I decided to take a stab at the meme that started it all...

1. Go back to first or early post. How would you describe your voice back in those early days?Who were you writing to? What was your sense of audience (if any) back then?

Well, because I started blogging BECAUSE of this meme, I was aware of my "audience," or at least my hoped for audience. I was writing for strangers. Or rather, I was writing for a handful of people whom I had gotten to know through reading their blogs, and wanted to be part of their community. However, as I read my early posts, I can see my sort of stretching and reaching, the hopefulness of finding that community, those links, while also trying to find a voice and a writing style that worked for me.

2. Do you remember when you received your first comment?

Both Beck and the blogger formerly known as BubandPie commented on my first post, which nearly sent me to the moon in a fit of ecstasy. I have tried to follow their example and check out new commenters on my blog quickly, and leave a reciprocal comment, but I'm not always as good about it as I'd like. I do usually manage to do it within a few days.

3. Can you point to a stage where you began to feel that your blog might be part of a conversation? Where you might be part of a larger community of interacting writers?

It's what I always wanted... and I would say I had a few moments of feeling part of the community early on, but for the first few months I felt quite a bit like the person pushing their way into the conversation- like I didn't quite belong, but darn it, I would keep talking and keep trying until I finally felt comfortable. I don't know when it was when I stopped feeling like I was intruding on the cool kids in the cafeteria, but I feel now like I've settled in to this little corner of the blogosphere that I call home, enjoying the company of so many wonderful people, interacting and reading and being together here in this virtual community.

It was interesting for me to go back and reread those first posts. I can see that I have become more comfortable. I would say that my voice changed a bit as I got to know my audience. Not that I changed what I wrote about due to a desire to fit in or get more comments or anything, but that as I got to know you, my readers and friends, that my voice relaxed a bit, and I started to write more like I was writing for friends, and less like I was writing magazine articles for strangers. And that's it, I suppose. I write for me, too, of course, but I write to you, my friends, my blogging community.

Thank you for being part of my blogging community. Thank you for making me glad, a year later, that I started this blog on a crazy whim. Thank you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Maybe Jacob told her?

The May Queen and I were coloring, and I declared my picture done. She insisted I had to color a part which I wanted to leave white.

"You can't," she said, "you have to color it."


"Because the picture wants you to."

Well, it's hard to argue with that.

Maybe she'll be writing for LOST next season. "The Island wants you to...."

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The official start of Hurricane Season

May the only Hurricanes we experience this year be available in a "go cup."